American girl builds a well in Uganda and saves lives

Warning: This article contains images that some readers may find disturbing.

Isabella Innis is a young American who traveled to Uganda to volunteer at the Mulago Government Hospital in the capital city of Kampala.

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It was there that she crossed paths with George, a 12-year-old boy who was brought into the hospital together with his brother, both seeking emergency medical treatment. They had traveled from a remote village in the central part of the country, clinging to the back of a motorcycle for four hours.

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The boy’s condition was alarming. He suffered from a severe case of typhoid fever. The doctors took immediate action and were able to save him, but George's brother had already died shortly before.

"Like many of Uganda’s small villages, George’s did not have clean water, and that’s how he contracted typhoid fever. Honestly, it was pretty severe, and the recovery process was long. It was those three months of recovery that brought us together," said Isabella.

George had to stay in bed for months during his recovery, and as Isabella spent a lot of time by his side they soon became friends.

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George had to undergo extensive, surgical treatment and is now left with immense scars across his stomach.

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“When we finally brought him back home, they asked for my help. Clean water, they said.”

Isabella’s volunteering experience soon came to an end and she flew back to the United States. But she didn't forget what George and his family had asked her for. Her time with George and his community deeply transformed her.

So much so that as soon as she returned home, Isabella started rallying support from her family and friends. Her aim was to raise the funds needed to construct a well. When she finally accomplished this, she along with five other friends returned to Kirasa last year to witness the momentous occasion when clean water arrived at George’s village.

"I come from a place where people have swimming pools and pillow-topped mattresses, yet they can’t find a reason to smile,” said Isabella. "George and his family and his neighbors, they sleep on dirt. Yet he and his people beam brilliant white smiles because of something as simple as water. Clean water. That’s all they asked for, and that’s what brought us together to do something," she continued.

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Isabella worked hard to make a wish come true for the Ugandans she met.

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"So yeah, building the well became the goal. But it’s all because I first knew (George) – my friend, a boy with a big scar, a mighty heart and a story worth sharing," said Isabella.  

And what a success: when clean water sprayed out of the newly-constructed well, the entire village danced with joy. It just goes to show that all it takes is someone with motivation and a genuine sense of solidarity to considerably improve the daily lives of people like George and his community.

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In this video, Isabella talks about her project:

Clean water for George from Isabella Innis on Vimeo.

And here she tells us about her second trip to Uganda and the building of the well:

George from Brother on Vimeo.

Sometimes, a brief encounter with somebody is all it takes to truly change a person’s life, or in this case the lives of numerous people, and that’s exactly what happened to Isabella and George. The young woman kept her promise and three years later she returned to grant George his wish. She was driven, committed, and with the backing of friends and family back home she initiated a project that can save lives. This should remind us all to go that extra mile, to get out of our comfort zones and really help those in need. It was as much a reward for Isabella and her friends as it was for George and his relatives.

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